Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3
Abreu it a tiebreaking homer in seventh inning, Johnny Damon made a great catch that saved three runs and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 Tuesday night to lower to one the magic number for their ninth straight AL East title.
“This is amazing,” said Abreu, whose only postseason experience was three at-bats with Houston in 1997. “I haven’t been in this situation in a long time, and I’m just excited about it. I’m going to enjoy it.”
“This is what you wait for. You wake up in the morning and know something special can happen,” New York manager Joe Torre said.
“It would be nice to clinch, but we know we are facing, to me, the game’s best pitcher,” Damon said.
Jeter forced Jason Frasor (2-2) out of the game by a lining a single off right shin in the seventh, and Abreu followed with a two-run homer off Justin Speier for a 5-3 lead. It was Abreu’s fourth home run since the Yankees acquired him from Philadelphia in late July, and gave him six hits in his last 12 at-bats. Matsui added a solo shot in the eighth off Brian Tallet.
“When we added Abreu, that let us breathe easier,” Damon said. “He let us all relax. He was another guy in the lineup that made us deeper”
Melky Cabrera’s two-run single in the fourth had put the Yankees ahead 3-2, but Gregg Zaun tied it in the fifth with an RBI single. Rios followed with a walk that loaded the bases and Damon, with his back to the plate and running hard toward the fence, stretched out his arm as he fell at the warning track in left-center to rob Russ Adams.
“Three runs could have scored. When you’re not hitting, you got to do something,” said Damon, in a 4-for-25 slump.
Damon scraped a hand on the catch, just the latest injury he’s sustained in Toronto. He’s once got stitches on his left elbow and broke his toe against the wall another time.
“I’ve got a lot of body parts left on this field,” Damon said.
Jeff Karstens (2-1), making his fifth major league start, allowed three runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“On the outside I’m pretty laid back being from California, but on the inside I’m like a little kid running around here saying, `God, I’m playing with all these superstars,”’ Karstens said.
Kyle Farnsworth pitched the ninth for his sixth save, eliminating third-place Toronto contention in the AL East.
“I don’t really care about the Yankees. I’m only worried about our team. We have a good thing going here and we’re going to carry this through to next year,” Speier said.
New York 1B Giambi left in the fifth inning with soreness in his left wrist. Torre said that he will rest him for at least a few games. Before the game, Giambi talked about possibly getting a third cortisone shot in the wrist. Giambi was replaced by Craig Wilson. … The Yankees’ Gary Sheffield was activated from the 15-day DL and could play 1B after the Yankees clinch. … Mariano Rivera threw a bullpen session and said he hopes to return this weekend. … The Yankees have won six straight road games. … Toronto has lost five in a row to New York.